BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN When asked why he likes to volunteer, Frank Muckenhirn quickly responded, “It’s just fun.”
His fun has not gone unnoticed, as the General Federated Women’s Club of Delano has named him Delano’s Citizen of the Year.
“It’s a real honor, I think,” Muckenhirn said. “It’s something to really feel good about. If other people think you’re Citizen of the Year, it’s more important than if you think you’re doing something good.”
Two community members nominated Muckenhirn.
“I’ve worked with him as the bingo manager at the (American) Legion club for a number of years now, and I know how hard he works,” one nominator wrote, referencing Muckenhirn’s work as the Knights of Columbus bingo manager through 2015. “He has been a total joy to work for. He works to promote and support the Legion and what it stands for, and he works very hard and is such a remarkable ambassador for the Knights of Columbus.”
GFWC Secretary Chris Brazelton also noted that Muckenhirn extended an invitation to GFWC members to work at bingo as a fundraiser for the club.
“Despite Knights of Columbus no longer being involved with bingo as their own fundraiser, GFWC still benefits from the relationship, as the Legion continues to hire some GFWC members who use their income to raise funds for GFWC projects,” Brazelton said.
For more than 20 years, Muckenhirn has been a Delano Senior Center volunteer.
He is one of the regular Meals on Wheels drivers in Delano, delivering hot noontime meals to homebound seniors.
“He enjoys his role as a Meals on Wheels driver, and he takes his time on the route, making sure to spend time visiting with the customers,” a second nominator wrote. “Frank never complains about the weather or if his route is too long. Actually, he does complain if his route is too short because he likes it so much. Frank has been known to go above and beyond for some of the homebound folks in Delano, helping them with miscellaneous tasks.”
“I really like Meals on Wheels,” Muckenhirn said. “I do it whenever I can, whenever it’s available. I like seeing the people. They always seem to appreciate what you do, and that’s great. You get your thank-yous all the time. I don’t know if I need to be honored any more than that.”
In addition to Meals on Wheels, Muckenhirn also contributed to the senior center by coordinating a senior bingo night at the Delano American Legion. He also helped secure funding from the Knights of Columbus to start the senior center blood pressure clinic.
“Frank is also known for his baking skills,” the second nominator wrote. “In 2014, he led a poppy kuchen-making demonstration for the senior center. He and (his wife) Marlene made and sold poppy kuchen at the Old-Fashioned Christmas event, as well.
“Most of all, Frank embodies Delano’s spirit of community in his willingness to help and in his interaction with others,” the nominator continued. “It is clear in his words and his actions that Frank loves Delano and that he wants to help others feel that way, too.”
A nominator also touted Muckenhirn as a family man.
“He is a loving husband, father, and grandfather, and can be found on the bleachers at almost any of his grandchildren’s games,” the nominator wrote.
A community banquet in his honor will take place in April.
Tickets will be available soon (announcement to follow in a future issue) from any GFWC member or from Pat Sawatzke at the Downtown Beauty Salon on River Street in Delano.
For Muckenhirn, the real reward isn’t a banquet or an award, but the feeling he gets when he volunteers.
“Volunteering is something that should make you feel good,” Muckenhirn said. “If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it for the right reason.”